Gout is a painful chronic disease that has long been linked to our diet, particularly our consumption of seafood and meat as well as alcohol. Common medical management approaches for gout will always involve certain dietary restrictions, some of which are so drastic that patients find it hard to stick to them in a more consistent basis. It is important to note that gout diet is not a treatment for the disease. It is a component for the management of the disease. It helps reduce the incidence of the disease and complements existing treatment modes for gout.
In various instances, the gout diet is generally similar to the healthy eating program that is recommended for most individuals. Aside from contributing in the overall management of gout, these special diet programs also help us maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of other chronic and lifestyle diseases.
The Primary Objective of Gout Diet
The main objective of a gout diet is to manage the production of uric acid as well as its elimination by our body. These specific conditions are essential in the prevention of gout attacks and reduction of the severity of the disease. While this diet plan is not meant to treat gout, it can help patients lessen gout flares. It is also important to note that obesity is one of the predisposing factors of the disease. Thus, weight management is also essential in lowering the risk of gout attacks.
Elements of Gout Diet
A typical diet for gout patients is composed of foods that are low in purine. This helps control the production of uric acid in our body. While weight reduction is critical in the effective management of gout, it is important for gout patients to avoid fasting and crash diet as these can trigger gout attacks. Gout patients are also advised to increase their fluid intake to help flush out uric acid from the body. It is also important for individuals with gout to avoid protein-rich diets as these can increase the production of uric acids by the body, a medical condition known as hyperuricemia.
What is a Low Purine Diet for Gout?
However, people with gout normally have elevated levels of uric acid in their bloodstream. This condition may be brought about by excess production of uric acid or by the inability of the body to eliminate enough amounts of uric acid through the excretory system. High levels of uric acid result to the accumulation of urate crystals in the joints, and this condition causes gout pain and flares.
Low-Purine Diet and Gout Management
Gout attacks can be prevented or treated with effective gout medications. Low-purine diet may contribute in the management of the medical condition, although it must not be considered a treatment option for gout. In addition to low-purine diet, patients with gout must also make other lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy body weight, increasing fluid intake and reducing the consumption of alcohol.
Foods that Contain Purines
There is a wide variety of foods that contain purine in varying amounts. The following is a list of foods that contain high, medium and low levels of purine. You must completely avoid high-purine foods and eliminate or consume in moderation foods that have medium or low levels of purine.
- Foods with high levels of purine – organ meats (liver, kidney, heart and brain), meat extracts, anchovies, mackerel, herring, sardines, game meats (partridge, duck and goose), mussels and scallops, fish eggs, yeast and gravy.
- Foods with medium levels of purine – red meat (pork, lamb and beef), poultry foods, shellfish and fish that are not included in the high-purine food list, dried beans, lentils, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushroom, oats and oatmeal, whole grain cereals and breads, green peas, and wheat germ and bran.
- Foods and beverages with low levels of purine – eggs (not more than 4 weekly), zero-fat or low fat ice cream and cheese, nuts, peanut butter, skim milk, cream-style soup that contain low-fat milk, vegetables that are not included in the high-purine and medium-purine food list, pudding, fruits and juices, pasta and macaroni, low fiber and refined grain breads and cereals, soda, rice, gelatin and coffee and tea.
Essentials of Low-Purine Diet
There are several things that you need to observe when incorporating low-purine foods in your diet, and these dietary changes must become part of your regular daily routine. In fact, your actions must amount to a lifestyle change rather than just a mere “diet” change.
- Consider variety in your choice of low-purine foods so that you don’t easily get tired of eating the same food every day. You can maintain your personal list of low-purine foods to remind you of your ideal diet on a day-to-day basis.
- Inform your family and friends that you are into a low-purine diet. It is also wise to carry along your personal list of low-purine foods when you are away from home.
- Consult your dietitian or nutritionist when you have issues and concerns regarding low-purine diet.
Low-purine diet is essential in keeping in check the uric acid levels in our bloodstream. While it is an integral component of gout management, it should never be used as a substitute for popular gout treatment options.
Key Foods to Avoid with Gout
People who are suffering from gout should learn about the foods that they have to avoid. Our diet is an integral part of the medical management of this painful joint condition. Learning about the foods to eat and those that we have to avoid will not only help us control gout attacks but prevent the main causes of the condition as well.
Gout and the Food that We Eat
We are aware that uric acid is also the by-product of the metabolic process that is involved when the purines in the food that we eat are broken down. Thus, one of the ways by which we can deal with the condition and prevent the onset of gout symptoms is by ensuring that we avoid foods that have high purine content.
However, this may not be as simple as it may seem. Most gout patients are not aware of the foods that have to be avoided to prevent gout attacks. Thus, we need to be properly apprised of the major foods that we need to exclude from our diet if we are either at risk of developing gout or already suffering from this painful joint disease.
Foods and Beverages to Avoid with the Gout
- Seafood and Meat – People who are at risk of developing the disease or those who are already suffering from gout need to cut back on their consumption of meat and seafood. Animal foods have high levels of purine and their consumption can result to increased amounts of uric acid in the blood stream.
- Anchovies, Tuna and Herring – There are certain types of seafood with moderate amounts of purine and can be consumed by gout sufferers once in a while. However, there are several types of seafood that should be completely taken off from the menu, and these include anchovies, tuna and herring.
- Red Meat – Meat products have varying contents of purine. As a general rule, gout sufferers are better off with white meat than red meat, although one can still take small bites of red meat occasionally. If you have gout, then you are better off indulging in pork or beef instead in lamb or turkey.
- Turkey and Goose – Gout patients are better off without them in their diet as they have high purine content compared to other types of food. Additionally, it is also necessary to keep to a minimum your intake of wild game if you are prone to gout flares. Duck and chicken are the better choices and chicken breast with skin should be substituted by leg meat if you have gout.
- Mushrooms, Spinach and Asparagus – These are the types of vegetables that have higher purine content. However, this does not necessarily mean that you have to completely take them off your menu. You only have to keep things in moderation as they are not as worse as red meats.
- Organ Meats – Sweetbreads, kidneys, liver and brain are a big no-no for gout sufferers.
- Beer – Drinking beer is considered by medical experts as a double-whammy for patients who have gout. Not only does it elevate the levels of uric acid in the blood, beer can also make it difficult for our body to flush the substance out of our system.
Gout-prone individuals are better off drinking wine, particularly the white one. However, heavy drinking is definitely bad for anyone, especially those who are already suffering from gout. During episodes of gout attack, it is imperative that one abstains from alcohol completely.
Avoiding certain foods that are known to be harmful to gout sufferers will not completely eliminate the symptoms associated to the chronic disease. Such healthy practice must not be considered as a treatment option for gout, although it can help us manage the chronic condition by maintaining the healthy level of uric acid in our blood stream.
Major Guidelines of Gout Diet
The major guidelines of a gout diet are as follows:
- Increase consumption of plant-based proteins – Increase your protein intake by including in your diet more plant-based sources of protein such as legumes and beans. The shift to plant-based protein will also reduce the level of saturated fats in your diet. Saturated fats have a certain degree of correlation to gout and obesity.
- Increase your fluid intake, particularly water – Fluid intake is necessary to maintain the capacity of our body to eliminate uric acid. Gout patients must observe a daily fluid intake of around 16 glasses (8-ounce).
- Choose zero-fat or low-fat dairy products – There are several clinical studies that have shown that the risk of gout attack is reduced when a patient consumes low-fat or skim milk as well as yogurt and other foods derived from skim milk.
- Include complex carbohydrates in your diet – Individuals with gout must increase the amount of fruits and vegetables as well as grains in their diet and reduce their consumption of foods that contain refined carbohydrates, such as confectioneries, cakes and white bread.